I’m looking at one of those promotional things that’s bigger than a leaflet, but smaller than a magazine – any marketing people out there will be able to advise on the approved name for them – intended in this instance to educate us in the all-round loveliness of San Miguel beer. There’s a distinctly Hispanic flavour about it: a competition to win a trip to Valencia; a few tapas recipes; and, just in case we don’t get the message, a reminder that San Miguel will help us to “take some time to sit and appreciate the taste of modern Spain.” Spain, of course, being shorthand for a certain flavour of laid-back sophistication; city breaks rather than package fortnights in Benidorm.
Except that San Miguel isn’t really Spanish. It comes from the Philippines, which in the British, lager-swilling consciousness is more about domestic servants, corruption and shoes. Moreover, if one considers the memories the Filipinos have of the times when Spain ran their affairs, selling a beer from the Philippines under Spanish colours is a bit like selling the glories of Guinness by using images of Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.